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Modernity and Tradition in Indian Architecture

India’s independence from British colonial rule in 1947 marked not only the emergence of a new nation but also the beginning of a new post-imperial world order. This moment is the hinge on which India views its history: as a civilization, a culture, a society, and a nation. It also brought to light a binary perspective on India’s history, economics and culture: the struggle and symbiosis between tradition and modernity.

Two architects in particular who pioneered and laid the groundwork for Modernism in newly independent India were Habib Rahman and Achyut Kanvinde, while two non-Indian architects created the nation’s first thoroughly Modernist building: the Golconde Ashram in Pondicherry (today’s Puducherry), by Antonin Raymond and George Nakashima. By the 1960s and 70s a newly confident indigenous generation of architects was coming to the fore. Charles Correa, B.V. Doshi, and Raj Rewal, among many others, were involved in their own manner in the search for identity, engaging with distinct regional features and moving away from the homogenizing effects of ‘International Style’ Modernism.

Architects experimented with the expression of material and technology as rooted in a local context, for example in the brickwork of the Belgian Embassy in New Delhi by Satish and Mohit Gujral, of 1984 and later in 1990 in the Mati Ghar in New Delhi, by Sanjay Prakash, and the rough-hewn rock and bamboo of the Mallik House by Nari Gandhi. Today, younger Indian studios have taken over the definition of and discourse on what Indian architecture will be, responding in fresh ways to long-embedded tensions between traditional and modern, urban and rural, local and global.

You can discover a wealth of further information about these themes by exploring the Bloomsbury Architecture Library – ranging from a full history of modern Indian architecture, to global case studies in design inspired by traditional practice.

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COP27 and Architecture

Was COP27 a success or a failure? We are yet to see whether the assembled world leaders of the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference will be able to effect any meaningful long-term change – securing global net zero carbon by 2050, keeping 1.5°C within reach, and bringing climate change under control. One thing that is certain, however, is that – with the built environment currently contributing 38% of worldwide energy-related carbon emissions – architects are on the frontline of global climate action.

Our Architecture Design and Practice collection contains a wealth of professional knowledge covering both the importance of sustainability and green design as well as practical information on how sustainability can be implemented in architecture.

Discover how design can create a positive legacy through regenerative sustainability; learn how to influence policy and behaviour through representation; get the low-down on designing an ecohouse; create a net-zero energy neighbourhood; or read the case study on Steven Holl’s Sliced Porosity Block – an urban terrace on a metropolitan scale.

All this and more can be found in the Architecture Design & Practice Online collection with over 200 key titles focusing on studio design and professional practice – from sustainability through to historic preservation.

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